(Photo: Reuters/Mohsin Raza)
Three Muslim men have reportedly been arrested after forcing a Christian family to convert to Islam at gunpoint earlier this week, Pakistan's local police force is reporting.
Local police official Abdul Ghafoor reported that the men, all in their 30's, had broken into the home of a large Christian family and tortured them, forcing them to convert to Islam at gunpoint. The family members tortured by the men were allegedly related to the recently deceased Boota Masih, a 58-year-old gold scavenger who was attacked and stabbed in the Karachi's Liaquatabad Gold Market earlier in September. Masih had been accused of blasphemy against the prophet Mohammed, and his throat was allegedly slit by a Muslim extremist as policemen and security guards looked on.
Police official Ghafoor told The Hindu that the three men, one of whom has been described in reports as an Islamic extremist, were arrested in the suburbs of Islamabad, the country's capital, earlier this week after attacking Masih's family members. Masih is survived by five daughters and two sons. One of his sons, George, told Morning Star News previously that he and his brother live in fear of going to work after their father's death, fearing they too will be targeted by Islamic extremists.
"My younger brother and I have stopped going to work, fearing someone will kill us just like they killed my father," George said.
This most recent case is one of many attacks against Christians in Pakistan in the recent months. Earlier in September, two Taliban-affiliated suicide bombers entered a church in Peshawar, detonating their devices and killing over 100 people. The Jundullah arm of the Taliban then took credit for the attacks, telling the Associated Press that it will continue attacking non-Muslims in the country until the U.S. stops drone attacks in the Middle East.
"All non-Muslims in Pakistan are our target, and they will remain our target as long as America fails to stop drone strikes in our country," the group said in a statement.
Although the late September church attack was seen to be one of the worst acts of aggression against Christians in the country, many Muslim and Christian groups joined together after the attack to urge an end to persecution against non-Muslims.
Muslims and Christians have formed a citizen group, "Pakistan for All," in an attempt to bring awareness to minority persecution in the county. About 200-300 Pakistani Muslim and Christian members of this citizen group gathered in Lahore, Pakistan's second largest city, last Sunday to form a human chain around a Christian church. The purpose of the demonstration was to show their unity with non-Muslims in the country.
"Well the terrorists showed us what they do on Sundays. Here we are showing them what we do on Sundays. We unite," Pakistan for All organizer, Mohammad Jibran Nasir told The Express Tribune.